TGOC 2015 Water of Caiplich to Braemar

TGOC 2015 Days 9 Water of Caiplich to Braemar

Ah but what Music for the Journey?

Not rock at all.

Kirsti Huke – Magnetic City
A bit of beautiful vocals with a Jazz vibe
Look, I like it! Just listen

So we woke reasonably early after the festivities of the previous night.
The weather was ok, in a Scottish sort of way.
Meaning, it would sleet at some point in the next few hours more than once.
But then it would also be sunny and warm

It was Scotland in May!
You were expecting maybe the Appelechian Trail in Summer.
Get real.
4 seasons in a day is the norm.

Bear that one in mind if you’ve never walked in Scotland before and are expecting California!

A look back

Heading out along the Water of Caiplaich

I was on a roll by today, and strode off like a person with good knees.

Along the track as we reached the right turn, it started to sleet and snow.
I say track.
This is Scotland, it was a load of heather and bog and the odd fence post, as you stare down the side of a hill…

I walked a bit with assorted fine folk.
It was a year ago, Sandy and Mike spring to mind, I’m sure I walked with them. Mike was on his 10th too.
Robin may have been involved at some point, I remember a conversation that involved medical matters.
I am sure I talked to David Albon too.
Look, it was nearly 2 years ok…….

Eventually after several squalls and some sun, we reached the end of the track, where the new bridge now crosses the river.
Last time I was here in 2007, it was just a beam. No it was just a single 12″ wide iron girder. That year getting across was an interesting traverse.

Gordon was here as well as lots of others.  errr… You know who you were!

A short respite in the sun (despite the cold) and it was time to head down the river to loch Builg

I did a fair bit of this with the FINE Rev Albon (hereinafter to be known as David, because that’s his name)

It was a good little wander apart from one small thing.
My need to go for a poo.
What you were expecting no mention of bodily functions in the hills?

Unfortunately it was becoming a bit showery, add to that the total lack of any place to hide for said ablutions, and the fact that a large gaggle of challengers were winding their way along the same river, I was proceeding to a desperate condition.
Did I mention this was also going to be a 2 day poo… NO!…..

Folk on Route
The weather looks nice here, but there were some bloody wet squalls

Loch Builg

A wee chap we met on route heading the other way

Willpower is everything… It bloody well had to be…
We wandered past the lochans and round to where the track splits.
Passing a landrover and astonishing attractive young lady.
Now, after a few days in the hills, all ladies are attractive, but she was rather lovely.
And with that fine image in my head I met up with Gordon, and after a brief chat base farewell to Gordon & David, who were heading off to Ballater.
I was heading down towards Braemar, as far as I could get.
I had a plan for a camp spot slightly north.

I headed south, at a reasonable pace.
Not because of need to get there, but because I had some BLOODY SERIOUS BUSINESS to do, and I really needed some cover.

The little lochan by the track

So, I headed down the track and then snuck off between some rocks and a small stream around NJ 191023 looking desperately for some shelter and place with loose ground.
Things were NOT going well.
In the end, out of site, I scrabbled onto a slope and moving a rather large rock frantically excavated a suitable latrine.
Timing is everything in these things, as in this case is balance, thank god I had walking poles for stability.

Well, enough of that, but suffice it to say, with great accuracy, and reasonable duration I managed some significant weight loss. Re-filled the hole, replaced the rock and left it as if no-one had been there.
Trousers up, I wandered back over the top of the small hill.

As I say, timing is everything, because there was a lady heading my way walking 3 dogs.
2 minutes earlier and…. Well I care NOT to dwell on it.

We had a short chat (not about this), and then I headed at a goodly lick down the track.
I was it felt about 3kg lighter.
It may have been less, but there was no longer stress, and the need to make shorter steps lest… Well, you know…

It’s a long long track.

On route I saw a small figure hurtling towards me at a furious pace.
It was Shap, a wonderful chap.
Those that know him will know also that that furious pace is his norm 🙂

We had a brief chat and then in the blink of an eye he was gone in a flurry of dust, like road-runner. (meep meep)

Twas a long walk.
The weather was between lovely and bloody horrid.
I took for some reason few photos. A pity.

Time was willing and not a soul about, I popped up Tom na h-Eilrig well, it was there on the left wasn’t it.

And then on towards the small forest.

Stopping briefly at one point to hide in a ditch from a mighty sleet squall that blew through, and also to take the opportunity to micropore the feet.
No blisters, but (TIP FOR THE NEWER), precaution is everything.
Fix it before it happens, and if you feel it happening, stop and do something now.
NEVER EVER wait until you just get down there, or over that bit.
That is how you butcher your feet and then have to withdraw 3 days later.

I was passing Creag a Chait on my right.

Near where I intended to camp by the woods.
It was about 16.00
I looked at the map to check distances.
It seemed madness to camp.
I was about 13km from Braemar.
What was that? The gound was good. I could make say 4 or maybe 5km per hour.
I could hit Braemar by 19.30 at the latest.
If my phone worked, I could maybe blag a bed somewhere.
The idea was sewn.
It was a GOOD idea.
Did I mention PUB?
Yes, I know the Fife was shut, but bugger it, there were 3 others.
It had to be done.
AND.. with renewed vigour and a skip in the step, the deal was done.

The scenery flew by.
It sleeted and squalled.
Bugger that, I wasn’t putting up a tent.
I had decided.
“Do your bloody worst Scottish weather.”
“I laugh at your attempts, for I am heading to BEER!”

And LO, it came to pass with a slight navigational error on the upper track by Invercauld house rather than the lower one, and the need to traverse a field, I arrived at the road.
Just a short (but sodding dangerous) trudge into Braemar…

I toyed with the idea of popping over the hill and creag choinnich, but no…. that involved elevation, I risked death amidst manic motorists and camper vans on each liitle bend, stopping briefly to photograph the castle.

It had been a longish day.
Pounding road at the end with sore feet is no fun, but it had to be done.

On the final stretch I tried calling a few numbers to see if I could blag a bed.
Too many replies of NO
Deep concern.
I guess I could always put my tent up at the camp site, BUT… my head had decided on a roof and a bed.
It wanted it.
It needed it.
I needed it.

I trudged the last bit of road towards the camp site.
Looked longingly at B&B with NO VACANCIES 😦

The YHA…
Na… It would be full, and I would have to walk up an incline just to be confronted with rejection again.

BUT, what IF? Hmmmmm!

Go for it.
I did.
They had a BED.
God had smiled.
And all was good with the world once more.

I sorted my gear.
Had a shower.
Changed into something slightly less smelly. (not clean).
This was day 10 FFS, nothing is clean by 10.
If it is, you have brought too much shit with you.
Know what I’m saying.

I headed into town to try and find some challenge folk.
I went to the Moorfield, it was full of rehydrated TGO’ers. Some very rehydrated. Know what I mean.
As I found out later having missed it, everyone else had gone to the Invercauld Arms.
A mistake I would NOT be making in 2016 (yeah I haven’t started writing that up yet OK)
TBH I haven’t finished this one.

Anyway newer Challengers, remember thoise names.
Moorfield, Invercauld Arms & in 2018 The Fife. Very important locations.
I am vying for the Carl Mynott never finished it award for TGO write-ups.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a good crack at the Moorfield as ever, it’s just a ****ing long walk after a long day, and then you have to walk back.

I walked back.
It was late (ish)
Braemar was looking much deader than it used to.
Many a folk had gone to Ballater, but I had promised Bill & Michael I would be at Callater on Sun.

Had I known, I would have headed to the Invercauld Arms for the final headache inducing hydration.
In some respects it was good I didn’t.

I snuck back into the YHA.
Quietly went to my room (it was shared) and trying not to wake anyone., stumbled to my bunk.
Placed some headphones in (essential), and amidst the background seismic rumble that is the case in most male dormitories I was shaken to a peaceful sleep.

Soon it would be morning and breakfast beckoned at The Old Bakery

And I Drift…..ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

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